And we’re back! Get ready for a long one, folks. We’re gettin’ to the gooood stuff.
When last we left our tiny heroine, she had just made the acquaintance of that scintillating douche bag Arden Lowe. (Arden Lowe, Arden Lowe, Arden Lowe)
And speaking of said “tiny heroine”, one of the things that I find most difficult to swallow about this book is Audrina’s narration. Granted, it can be read as adult Audrina recalling her snarl of a childhood, but we’re never explicitly told that. This means that the first section of the novel is being narrated by a seven-year old girl, and that’s just silly. Has any of this sounded like a seven-year old? Now, I understand that writing from a child’s perspective is a difficult thing to do, and that such writing would cause the story to suffer (“My dad is really tall and sometimes he’s mean, my cousin Vera is a jerk and I hate her, but I love my mom, she’s so pretty”), but it’s jolting for me as a reader to have Audrina witness the things that she does, and then reference that she’s almost to her eighth birthday. I don’t know, just odd for me.
Anyhow, Billie assures Audrina that Arden is a good boy, pardon, a “fine and honorable boy”, and will treat her right, so Audrina is eager to be friends, but has to run back to the house when she hears Damian calling for her. Turns out that Audrina looked “secretive” at breakfast, so Damian sat in his office all day wondering if she had gone to the woods to meet the new neighbors, and after a morning obsessing about his daughter, he decided to come home and check on her. Damian tells Lil’ A that the new neighbors are beneath them and that “common people will still your specialness”, so she can’t be friends with them, no ma’am. After all, the new baby will be her friend! To which Our Audrina replies:
“Like Momma and her sister are friends?”
SNAP, Audrina. SNAP.
Damian gives her some very healthy and normal guilt about how she says now that she’ll love him forever and will never leave him, but that someday she’ll meet a man and POOR PAPA will be all alone…and Audrina assures him that this isn’t true, and they return to the house, where a creepy old lady is trying to determine the sex of Damian and Lucky’s baby. She does this by tying Lucky’s wedding ring to a piece of string and using it as a divining tool. Naturally, though, something goes wrong and Old Lady Soothsayer Stock Character tells a terrified Lucky that the baby is neither male nor female. (No, no, no, VCA, neuter babies don’t happen until Heaven!) Damian throws her out of the house, and Vera taunts Audrina, having eaten the last of the chocolate cake. Damian yells at Vera to shut up, which causes her to proclaim that “another freak” is about to be born into the household. For this, Damian spanks her so hard that Audrina can see how red her behind is getting through her underwear. Lucky and Ellie stop this, but warn Damian that Vera might never forgive him for this. (Just for this??)
Audrina spends her summer sneaking through the woods to play with Arden (who, let me remind you, is 12. Audrina is still 7. Five years isn’t a big age difference when you’re 25 and 20, but how many 7-year olds did you play with when you were 12? Siblings don’t count), but Vera follows her and insists on tagging along. A lot happens here, so here’s a small run-down:
We learn that:
- Arden is a momma’s boy
- Vera is 12
- Arden is surprised to learn about the First & Best Audrina
- Arden has a “deep dark secret” and isn’t sure that Our Audrina will want to be his friend once she knows it
- While Vera’s teasing usually annoys Arden, he’s starting to fall for her flattery
On one summer day, the trio goes swimming, and while Audrina is changing out of her swimsuit, Vera steals it and her and Arden’s clothes (though he still has his bathing suit on), just in time for Damian to come barreling through the woods and find Audrina naked in a boy’s presence. (And no, though it seems obvious, Vera didn’t tell Damian where Audrina was, Damian once again spent all day obsessing about how happy his daughter looked at breakfast and came home to look for her) Arden stands up to Damian, who isn’t above threatening broken noses to 12-year old boys, and Audrina gets dragged home through the underbrush wearing her father’s sport coat.
And, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Damian Jonathan Adare would like to submit the following performance for Father of the Year.
Damian lets her get scratched up by the branches as he drags her along, eventually letting go of her hand in order to better protect himself from the branches. Audrina trips over the sleeves of the coat and falls several times, and when Damian finally stops and ties up the sleeves for her, he also gifts us with:
“Are you feeling sorry for yourself now, darling? Do you regret your hasty actions-deciding to risk your papa’s disfavor to see a boy who will only ruin you in the end?” ……………
Damian then drags Audrina to see the golden raintree under which her older sister’s body was found. Because this isn’t wretched enough, he then takes her to the family plot and gives her a long speech about her wonderful, beautiful, perfect sister, who DIED and is DEAD and what MEANING could that death have except that God REPLACED THAT AUDRINA WITH YOU, and if ONLY you would listen to me and FILL UP with her gifts, life would be perfect.
End of submission reel. Isn’t he keen, folks?
Audrina promises to try harder than ever before to become like her big sister, if only Damian allows her to visit Billie and Arden. Damian agrees (AFTER ALL THAT), but Audrina can’t go after dark and has to take Vera with her.
Audrina decides that she’s going to work harder to be Damian’s favorite and a perfect daughter. Vera is doing her best to sabotage this (of course), by doing Damian little favors (filling up his coffee, ironing his shirts, even though she burns a hole in one of them, blames it on Audrina, then hocks her mother’s jewelry to buy him a new one, lying about having the old one fixed, god I love you, Vera), and insulting Audrina whenever she can. Audrina, meanwhile, starts using her own ring-on-a-string to pick out stocks that Damian should buy out of the newspaper, as Damian has been teaching Audrina about the stock market. Lucky’s health seems to be fading as her pregnancy goes on, and she tells Audrina one morning that she shouldn’t use the rocking chair anymore, but should try to think for herself. Their mother-daughter moment is ruined, though, by Damian coming home with supplies for a party in one hand, and a runaway Vera in the other (she’d run off to town to prostitute herself after Ellie found out about the hocked jewelry).
As Lucky prepares for the party and Vera sings to herself in the rocking chair, Damian and Audrina go for a walk by the river and Damian tells her that the next day is her ninth birthday. Audrina is understandably flustered by this, given that she is only seven today. Damian is at a loss at first, but reminds Audrina that she never has been able to keep track of time, and that she shouldn’t worry so much about losing a year of her life, but just to trust him. He then asks her what she dreamt about the night before, as he went in to check on her and she was tossing and turning. Damian, you need a hobby. Audrina uses this opportunity to give him stock tips in the guise of a dream, and then runs inside to check the date on the newspaper (it is indeed September the 8th). Damian and Lucky’s party goes on as planned that night, and as per usual, Damian and Lucky end the evening with a fight, which Vera and Audrina watch through the keyhole. Damian is furious, as Lucky apparently played the piano too much, was too flirtatious with a fellow piano player, and, we hear, her nipples could be seen through her dress. Zounds! Damian gets a few slaps in before Audrina runs into the room to stop him, and Lucky makes weak apologies and sends the girls back to bed.
In the morning, Audrina wakes to find the house quiet and the kitchen empty. She starts breakfast only to be pushed aside by Aunt Ellie, who informs her that Lucky went into early labor the night before and she and Damian are at the hospital. Audrina spends the day worrying, interrupted only by Arden coming by with birthday gifts, and Vera’s taunts about how she’ll be second best once the baby is born. The next morning Damian finally calls to tell Ellie that the baby is a girl named Sylvia. Ellie passes this news to Audrina, and is set to tell her something more when Damian comes home. After beating around the bush as much as possible, he finally breaks down and tells Audrina that Lucky is dead and baby Sylvia will be at the hospital for an undetermined period of time.
At Lucky’s funeral, Audrina learns that her mother gave to many town charities and also that Damian plans to be buried between Lucky and the First & Best when he dies. Audrina asks where she’s going to go, and is told that she’ll “know her place, sooner or later”. Audrina announces to Damian that she plans to become a concert pianist like her mother never did, and Arden chimes in that he knows just the teacher. Damian brushes them both aside, but Audrina later tries to play a little on her own. Audrina then lets herself into the playroom and uses the rocking chair, having a sudden memory of Lucky giving her a piano lesson when she was a little(r) girl. Filled with the new knowledge that her mother had wanted her to learn to play, Audrina decides that nothing will stop her, and we are finished with Part 1.
RIP, Lucietta Lana Whitefern Adare.
Everyone in this book is insane.
Coming up: More insanity! Piano lessons! Sexy sexy piano teachers! Vera unleashed! Arden is a tool! Public masturbation! Will Ellie and Damian take up together now that Lucky is dead? What’s up with Baby Sylvia? Will Audrina remember what day it is? Why won’t Billie let Audrina in her house?
All this and more as My Sweet Audrina continues!